Brew with a view!

 
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Well - the boathouse is open and Phase II of White Mills Marina is now complete - how happy are we!

 

And what a fabulous start Carrie and Wendy had yesterday - a really good steady stream of people all day long, not just our regular boaters but those people who were out and about for a walk.  And without exception everyone said they were really impressed with Carrie's fabulous bakes as well as with the choice of coffees and teas and overall quality.  Wendy's Club sandwich (our first special) was probably the people's choice although I must say I thoroughly enjoyed my very healthy and extremely delicious roasted red pepper and tomato soup. There was a fabulous atmosphere of unadulterated happiness in the boathouse too - so long may that continue!  Sunday breakfast today - I might just pimp up some granola and keep on that healthy theme - mind you on the other hand,  the English breakfast roll sounds really rather good.....

 

 

Narrowboatworld

 

Too busy to blog!

 

Sincerest apologies for the lack of blogs recently, but we seem to have been really busy!  Not only have we been putting the final touches to our truly fabulous facilities building which we hope will be totally up and running from the 1st December,  but we have been busy welcoming new boaters to the marina too, which has been (and still is of course) lovely. 

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Since our last blog, we have held two very successful open days both of which tied in with the Nene Valley Festival .  The second open day also incorporated our annual craft fair.  Luckily the weather was fabulous and the sun shone on both occasions. There was a wonderful carnival atmosphere at our small but perfectly formed craft fair.  Haydn from Drifter provided some superb music throughout the day, and Mildred and Jones were on hand with their delightful little truck to provide teas, coffees and cakes. We had an increased number of stalls this year, which was encouraging. and we are now looking forward to next year when we hope to be able to extend it still further as we will have the use of the new boathouse.

Also at the end of September we took part in the Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan and raised a terrific £342.10.  Many thanks to everyone who supported our efforts, it is such a terrific cause. Luckily yet again, the sun shone so we were able to host the event outside in a marquee which was perfect.

At the end of October, boaters put their creative skills to the test at our annual "pimp your Pumpkin" challenge - the calibre of entries was amazing.  Paul Richards scooped first prize, second prize went to Tailor MacInnes and 3rd Prize to Jackie Kane.   Paul is pictured receiving the much coveted trophy and bottle of fizz from Princess Pumpkin!

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As we said earlier the facilities building will be up and running by the end of the next week. Being a waterside venue our preferred name for our lovely new building although not hugely original, was the boathouse  So for the first time, here is our logo for our brand new boathouse and we hope you approve. We love it!

 

Celebrating the Nene Valley

 
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White Mills will be celebrating all that is good about the Nene Valley later this month when we take part in the Nene Valley Festival.  To mark the occasion, we are hosting two Open Days; one at the very start of the Festival on Sunday 17th September and the other on the very last day Sunday 24th September.

The great thing about Open Days is that they give boating enthusiasts an opportunity to see how we are progressing and how we have progressed since  we first opened 18 months ago. And the wonderful thing about the Nene Valley Festival is that it gives us all the chance to wave the flag for the River Nene and surrounding valley.

It is the second time that White Mills Marina has taken part in the Nene Valley Festival and on Sunday 24th September in addition to the Open Day, we will also be hosting a craft fair.

With very much a local theme, the craft fair will feature a range of stalls selling locally made items from cards, crochet and canal art through to cakes, clocks and coffees, and much more. There will even be an opportunity to chat to Colin Ashby (nb Living the Dream) about his fabulous pet portraits, have a go at weaving, thanks to Wendy Wenham (nb Annie Rose ) and enjoy music by Drifter who is making a much welcomed return to entertain visitors.  So it should be fun!

Oh yes, the Open Days s run from 10am - 4pm. 

 

 

 

Ed conquers the Leeds & Liverpool canal

 
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Congratulations to our very own Ed Blakey (nbComing thru')  who this weekend navigated the Leeds and Liverpool Canal not by boat but by running!  Amazing Ed took part in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal 130 mile race and completed it in a staggering 37 hours!  Tired but euphoric Ed admitted it was one of the hardest things he has done in his life, and even though his feet and ankles had really been put through it and were quite clearly sore, he said it was all worthwhile.   Well done that man!

 

A BBQ to be proud of

 
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Heaven knows where the last six weeks have gone, I can't believe that the last blog was written on 22nd July!  Time flies when you are busy, and it certainly has.  The building of the facilities building has certainly kept us on our toes. We have also had a good turn out from  boaters who visited our stand at Crick and  have either taken the plunge and bought a boat and are coming to stay at White Mills or quite simply want a change of scenery and fancy the more tranquil setting of the River Nene.  Either way bookings are definitely on the increase.  We have also had a good number of overnight visitors which is always lovely, and since we became officially involved with the Friends of the River Nene as a point of call for people to join up, we have had lots of boaters keen to explore the River Nene drop in too.

Oh yes, our camping and caravanning site has proved popular too, with everyone of our campers promising to return when we have hook ups organised next year.  We even had a lovely family from Holland to stay for a week, they loved Earls Barton and all the surrounding villages.

Our community continues to thrive, and we have to say a big thank you to Pete (nb Tregantle) for adding the final piece of the jigsaw to our BBQ which is now up and running.  Situated in the camping area of the marina amongst the trees, looking out towards Whiston church we feel sure it is going to be well used. 

 

 

Speedy work

 

When we were told that our new wooden boat house (aka the facilities building) would be up within two weeks - we were, to be honest, a little bit sceptical.  However, the rate the builders have been working the past few days has absolutely blown us all away.

A smallish team arrived on Wednesday and by Friday evening we really couldn't believe it, all the external walls were in situ as were the internal walls, even all the roof joists were secured! All within just three days. It was only a couple of weeks ago in our last blog that we said the materials had been delivered!  Now look where we are!

It really is a hugely exciting time for the development of White Mills and there is a real buzz of anticipation around the marina.The weather hasn't been particularly brilliant but rain has never stopped play - so a huge and well deserved pat on the back to the Keops team.  Excellent work.

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So it is now the start of the long summer holidays. Let us hope that the weather stays fine and warm, so that all the hard working youngsters can have a well deserved break and get outside and explore their surroundings especially the beautiful Nene. Many of our recent visitors are newbies to the Nene, and even by the time they reach us just on that short stretch from Northampton to Earls Barton they are totally enchanted by it's crystal clear waters and abundance of wildlife. So you can imagine we are looking forward to their return journeys to hear how they got on and what they thought of the Nene Valley.

Word is beginning to spread about White Mills Marina being a certificated Camping and Caravanning Club site, and most weekends we have campers staying with us.  Once the facilities building has been completed then we can focus our attention on our pretty camping area and install electric hook ups. There is always lots to be done!

Well that is about it, must dash - we have an opening celebration for our delightful boaters to organise!

 

 

 

Comings and Goings

 
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Last week was a real diverse week, not only did we welcome a good number of overnight visitors, which is always lovely as we hear about all the adventures they have had on their journeys along the waterways, but we also welcomed several new permanent moorers too.  It is great to see how quickly they along with their four legged pals, have settled in and are enjoying their new, beautiful surroundings. So welcome one and all!

The first delivery of materials for the final phase of the facilities building also arrived, which is very exciting. Work actually gets underway on building it a week today....... And as we keep on saying, it really can not come quick enough.  It will make such a difference.

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During the week, we had a very useful visit from Northamptonshire Fire Services, four firefighters spent the day down at the marina, speaking to boaters and offering fire safety advice.  They even handed out fantastic new smoke alarms which can differentiate between burning toast and something more serious! How clever is that?  It was a hugely useful exercise and much appreciated by our boaters, so thank you to Carrie for organising.

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Our quiet and tranquil River Nene has seen a small increase in boaters over recent weeks, but the waters are still relatively quiet, under used and of course stunningly gorgeous.  There was  a segment on last night's Countryfile about the River Nene and the Rushden Lakes development so it appears the secret about how picturesque and underused the River Nene is might be out! Hey Ho!

 

 

Busy open day expected

 

This week we are gearing up for next Sunday's Open Day, and having had a very successful Crick Boat Show we are expecting it to be busy.

Already we have had a number of visitors phoning up to book a slot for a tour, so to make sure that everyone receives personal attention the entire Skinner team including Sam, Ben and Joe will be on hand to help. Carrie of course will be steering us through the whole day to make sure it all goes smoothly, whilst Wendy (NB Annie Rose) will be making sure there is enough tea, coffee and cake for all our visitors.

We are now hoping that the weather will do us proud and that we all have a great day.  Look forward to seeing you then! 

The Open Day is on Sunday 2nd July and will run from 10am - 4pm.

 

Cracking Crick

 

Phew! What a weekend we had at Crick Boat Show this weekend. Things really could not have gone any better.

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We had a fabulous spot in the Waterways World Marquee (Stand 80) right on a corner in the middle of a busy thoroughfare and were surrounded by some fabulous exhibitors many of whom we met for the first time last year.  It was a very happy, buzzy atmosphere and we felt so incredibly lucky to be located where we were.

It was a real family affair too with all of us spending at least one day manning the stand. Carrie joined the team on the Saturday and made sure that our boat was ready to sail smoothly over the three day event.  And it did! Each one of us came back to HQ in Earls Barton feeling totally buoyed up by the response and interest we received from boaters who are either looking for new moorings or are planning to visit our tranquil and picturesque River Nene.  

We handed out loads of leaflets not just about White Mills Marina and what we have to offer, but also leaflets about the significance of our location right on the edge of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Destination Nene Valley had given us a range of information highlighting what is good about the Nene Valley and River Nene, so we were armed with much more useful information this time around, which visitors really seemed to appreciate.  

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Our enthusiasm and excitement for actually being lucky enough to run a marina has been injected with a huge amount of adrenaline thanks to the Crick Boat Show and which looks set to continue for many weeks and months to come. 

If you are planning to pop in and see us, then please do,  we would be thrilled to show you round and the kettle is always on. Don't forget we have an open day on Sunday 2nd July.

 

Views to savour

 
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One of the loveliest things about White Mills is the stunning countryside that surrounds the marina.  

 

 

This was certainly brought home to us at the weekend when photographer Mike Long from Hi Pix Photography popped in to take some pictures. 

 

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We are so lucky to have such fabulous views of uninterrupted countryside to enjoy. Who wouldn't be happy to come to work in a place like this everyday?

 

Early birds catch the chorus

 

Hats off to our bird enthusiasts who on Sunday rose at the crack of dawn to take part in National Dawn Chorus Day by going out for an early morning stroll with local bird enthusiast Ian Moore.

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The team set off at 5am along the River Nene and headed towards Great Doddington, they did not have to walk far to be treated to a whole cocophony of different bird song. 

During the two hour walk, a whole range of different species of birds were identified purely by their individual songs. Amazing!

As everyone enjoyed it so much Ian has now agreed to host a butterfly and dragonfly walk in mid July which will be fabulous.  Spaces will be limited so if you want to secure your spot, then please contact the office asap.

 

 

 

And we are off!

 

Its now full steam ahead creating our  much anticipated facilities building, with work finally getting underway today.  Phase II of White Mills Marina development should be completed by the middle of July, so let us hope that we get some decent dry weather and everything goes according to plan.  None of this of course would be possible if we had not been lucky enough to secure European grant funding for 40% of the project from the Rural Payments Agency, the Rural Development Programme for England and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.  So a huge thanks once again for believing in our project.

 

First birthday celebrations

 
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It must be an age thing when you find yourself always commenting about how quickly time flies,  so when 1st April came along, needless to say we could not believe that White Mills Marina has actually been up and running for twelve whole months!

To celebrate the occasion, we hosted an open weekend, erected a brand new roadside sign,  held a cake break in aid of our new charity of the year the Multiple Sclerosis Society which raised a fabulous £185.00 and then hosted a small 'drinks do' for our boating community which comprised prosecco (obviously) and a fabulousl cake. We were blessed with good weather which meant we could celebrate al fresco. I am not sure what we would have done if it had been raining, mind you. It was a really lovely event and one I suspect which will be repeated every year in one way or another.

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With the EA licensing renewal up on 31st March we have said farewell to two or three boaters who wanted to move further afield, which was sad, however, thankfully and very happily we have welcomed and are looking forward to welcoming a whole host of new boaters to our community - which is really wonderful and something we still find very exciting. 

Latest news from the marina is that the super duper WiFi has now been installed, there are just a few tweaks to be made to ensure that everyone on site can receive it.   With regards to the facilities building, there has been a delay in kicking off construction mainly because we have made some minor changes.  Any alterations that are made to our original plans need to be passed by the Rural Payment Agency who approved our application for European funding. Hopefully all our ducks are now in a row, and we can get cracking within the next week or so. 

We are delighted that Carrie Hewitt has agreed to help us out more. Carrie will be working in the marina office full time as from the beginning of May.  Luckily for us, Carrie  not only shares our work ethic and ambition for White Mills to become a five star marina, but she also shares our sense of humour.

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Well that is about it, forthcoming events  include another open day on Sunday 7th May 10am - 4pm and a dawn chorus walk along the River Nene on the same day at 5.30am with bird enthusiast Ian Moore.

At the end of the month, we will of course be exhibiting at Crick Boat Show over the bank holiday weekend, so we look forward to seeing you then!

 

 

 

 

Cancer charity benefits from marina donations

 
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We were so thrilled when we counted up the cash in the Pancreatic Cancer UK charity collection box yesterday and discovered that we had raised a very respectable £180.00 over the past few months.

The money had been collected through donations via the Craft Fair in September, two charity quiz nights in the office along with the occasional donation from visitors to the marina office.

So a big thank you to everyone who kindly donated - it means an awful lot and as they say ..... every little helps. 

We have now chosen our charity for 2017/18 which is the Multiple Sclerosis Society - we will be kicking off fund raising by having an Easter egg raffle which will be drawn on Easter Saturday. Raffle tickets are on sale now in the office and cost just £1 per strip.

 

 

Marina of the month

 
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We were so thrilled when Canal Boating Times approached us to see what we thought about being marina of the month in their January issue.  Of course we were absolutely delighted and accepted straight away. Of course we can not thank them enough for thinking of us, it is such a brilliant article and we are all so pleased with it, so we have to share it.  Another fabulous boost for 2017!

To check out January's edition of Canal Boating Times click here

 

Grant Success!

 
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We have done it and it is official!

Our application for grant funding provided through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) 2014-2020, has been successful.

We can now crack on with Phase 2 of our development and erect a facilities building to accommodate ladies and gents toilets and showers as well as disabled facilities.  So a big and huge thank you to the EAFRD and RPA for believing in us.  It really is such a boost, and will of course mean that not only will we have a terrific meeting place for all our boaters and visitors but we will be able to host functions, events and really move the marina's social side forward.

It is hoped if everything goes according to plan, to have the facilities building up and running for 1st May, just 13 months after we officially opened for business as a fully operational marina on 1st April last year. We are so excited and thrilled.

Watch this space for all the very latest! What a terrific start to 2017.

Thanks to all our lovely media who continually support us - below are a couple of links to stories

Narrowboatworld.com

Northamptonshire Telegraph

Northampton Chronicle and echo

Brief Report